The Perspective 
Wednesday, 04 March 2015

A year later, retailers are reporting positive results from iBeacon campaigns. There are, however, still challenges from the caveats associated with  iBeacons.

Specifically, customers must be iPhone users. They must download the retailers’ app. They must enable Wifi on their phone and opt-in to receive notifications. Many consumers are not willing to opt-in because they have privacy concerns about retailers collecting their data. Physical Cookie gives retailers and their customers the benefits of iBeacons without having to meet all of these requirements.

What is Physical Cookie?

Physical Cookie is a RFID-tag within a piece of plastic, usually on a key-fob,  which retailers can give to their customers as they shop. The customer puts Physical Cookie in their pocket and then has to take no additional steps. Electric readers are then placed around the retail store. The Physical Cookie key-fob collects data in real-time in the same way cookies on websites do (hence the name). Digital screens within the store, show customers advertisements based on their behavior. Customers do not sign up or register, so there are no privacy concerns involved. Physical Cookie has operated in the Citycenter shopping mall in Helsinki, as part of a trial since Fall 2014.

Physical Cookie is easier for the consumer to use than iBeacons. Unlike the Bluetooth technology used for iBeacons, Physical Cookie is always on. Instead of pinging a user’s phone, the actual retail environment reacts to the consumers behavior, which feels much less spammy.

The Physical Cookie Customer Loyalty Program

In the Citycenter trial, a customer loyalty program called VIP-key was launched. The VIP-keys were given to 14,000 randomly selected customers who were then automatically part of a loyalty program, without ever having to opt-in, register, or sign up for anything. The trial was in a shopping center but Physical Cookie has said this can work for both retail chains and for brands working within big-box retailers.

While this trial was conducted using Physical Cookies in a key-fob format, the company said in the future this does not necessarily have to be the case. The key-fob format was selected with the thought process that customers enter the shopping center with their wallet, mobile phone, and keys with them. The average customers wallet is already full of loyalty cards, and mobile phones would require opt-in. The key chain was chosen instead because it does not already have any smart device on it.


  •     The VIP-key cost the equivalent of about two cents in US Dollars.
  •     15% of the VIP-keys were active.
  •     They showed a 14.5% increase in activity between floors.
  •     There a was a 21.7% increase in time spent in the shopping center.

For more information on enhancing your customers’ retail experience, please visit our About page.

Photo Credit: Physical Cookie

Posted by: Admin AT 10:39 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Provided by Frank Mayer & Associates, Inc.

Retailers are both optimistic and realistic about challenges heading into 2014. Either way, they should be intent on making each touch point with the customer as meaningful as possible. Here are some of the ways our thought leaders see this imperative playing out in stores.

What role does in-store merchandising play in positioning retailers for a new and challenging year ahead?

Mike Mayer, President: Our success and that of our clients going forward will come from helping marketers face a changed environment, changing consumer and rapidly evolving technology. The biggest challenge we can help our clients meet is keeping the in-store experience vibrant and relevant in the midst of upheaval.

We create solutions that keep shoppers coming into stores, help them make sense of categories, and keep them engaging with products so that in the end they appreciate the advantages of the in-store experience and are enabled to shop the way they want to.  Sometimes it isn’t the newest, shiniest technology, and sometimes it is. Fitting the right technology to the environment and the consumer leads to the best outcome.

Are there new tools that will be put to use in the realm of interactive retailing?

Ron Bowers, Senior Vice President Business Development: I’m watching to see if 2014 will usher in a new wave of in-store communication with shoppers. Proximity marketing enabled by beacon technology gives retailers a new tool to interact with connected consumers at precise locations in stores. People in retail, entertainment, transportation and other industries are paying attention to news about Apple’s iBeacon.

I’m rooting for this technology to work because from an in-store merchandising perspective, iBeacon has the potential to increase ROI and make even non-interactive displays “smarter.” A beacon could send a prompt to engage, a purchase incentive, or information.  This solution helps address the “if you build it, will they come” question that often arises when ambitious interactive merchandising solutions are used, and it could enable something as simple as knowing when and where a display gets put up.

Retailers are the real harbingers with beacon technology. If several retailers have successful tests and roll beacons out to their stores in 2014, it will add an exciting new layer of relevance to in-store communication.

This development begs the question: Have we finally reached the point of cultivating true one-to-one relationships with important customers that Peppers and Rogers espoused in their book One to One Future a decade and a half ago?

What will 2014 bring from a display design perspective?

Ryan Lepianka, Creative Director: As online shopping options become more enticing due to cost savings and ever faster shipping, brick and mortar retailers must differentiate themselves evermore from their virtual counterparts.  One aspect that really sets physical retail apart is the presence of well-crafted, hands-on experiences. A live demo allows potential purchasers to gain a tactile knowledge of products that is impossible to attain from a jpeg and a few questionable product reviews.

Heavily branded custom demo stations – for electronics and gadgetry for example – give premium products the pop they need to stand out in a crowded retail environment. They help consumers answer questions like: Does this product have the quality build I’m looking for?  Do I trust this product?

The quality of the demo station itself helps to reinforce a premium message.  These types of displays have elevated in quality of construction and features of late, and I see a continuation of this trend. More enticing lighting, less visible fasteners and more premium-looking materials are defining the preferred brands at retail today.

What worked well at retail in 2013 that we are likely to see more of in 2014?

Joe Holley, Vice President New Business Development–Displays/Merchandisers: The “less is more” trend from retailers this past year will carry into 2014.  A growing number of retailers are focusing their efforts on a detailed consumer profile for a category and only offering products – including top sellers – that fit that profile.  Omitting some SKU’s in the lineup creates opportunities to develop point of purchase displays on a higher level.

Displays and merchandisers have more real estate available to communicate to the consumer and can present a category with more style and simplicity. The “less is more” trend also opens the door for innovative ways to showcase the product as well as provide guidance to the consumer to shop the display/merchandiser with ease at the point of sale.

Posted by: Admin AT 03:38 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 07 February 2012
by Alex Richardson

I've won over 30 industry awards for my clients and companies and I've served as a judge for six industry award events. I would summarize my advice on how to improve your chances to win into a simple concept that drives my business career: Follow the three Fs - fun, fame and fortune.   
Fun: As judges, we read dozens of award applications. We tend to read submissions after work, on the train or on weekends when time permits - and we are probably sleep deprived
Judges need to be entertained in order to capture their full attention.  
Ensure that your award application is created with the proper balance of data, i.e., supply the relevant answers to the contest questions as well as provide thoughtful creative content to support your data: website links, good photos, videos. For example, when we submitted the Ralph Lauren Interactive Store Window application in 2006, we included dozens of photos, videos and media clips in order to help the judges understand how the application worked.  
US Open Interactive Window August 2006
Ralph Lauren Store Madison Avenue NYC

Interactive Store Window
New Bond Street London, 2007
Boris Becker
Fame:  Fame is not only about how your project generated positive press or awareness, but how did your application change the world?  If your award application doesn't have the wow factor, don’t waste your time on the award application.    
Being the first to innovate for a given category is key to winning.  
We could have saved time and money and created a virtual shop that promoted the Ralph Lauren US Open website content (without transactions). Instead, we engineered a simple way to mount a standard POS credit card reader on the front of the touchscreen store window ... outdoors. And we did this in a matter of weeks, not months.  We were the first in the world to allow customers to order store merchandise after store hours when the store was closed. By innovating, we captured the imagination of worldwide press and elevated the brand as technology leader — totally in alignment with the new generation of digital, multi-channel consumers. 
Fortune:  Many award applications talk about "how did your application create a positive (ROI) –return on investment? Did my application add incremental revenues to you or your client?"  
It's a powerful advantage to your award application if you can demonstrate a simple ROI to the judges. But for many emerging technologies, it’s not about ROI, it’s about ROO (return on objective).  
Great brands focus on key objectives. David Lauren's objective is to use technology and innovation "as a way to tell a story about the brand."  If a brand tells a relevant brand story (and creates awesome products), we increase the sales of our merchandise without spending millions on traditional print, online and TV advertising.      
Our Ralph Lauren Interactive Store Window was the first stepping stone on how we wanted to break down the barrier between the retail storefront and the digital website and let customers browse and shop in the store and then complete the transaction at the store window or at their home or office computer. 
We were totally customer focused and put our rich digital assets in front of the customer at the point of decision-making-the store window. (Our US Open Interactive Window was almost two years before Steve Jobs launched his Apple App Store and smart phones took over the role of kiosks.)   
The results:  We increased sales inside the stores and website, generated massive worldwide press, and elevated the brand as the #1 digital global apparel brand in the world. We also changed the way that retailers use digital content inside of retail stores. I’m not surprised today to see digital signage, interactive windows, 3D displays, QR codes and other innovative apps promoted at many stores from New York to Shanghai. 
Awards:  Yes, we won six industry awards, including multiple "Best of Show" awards and Industry Innovator of the Year Award. 

Alex Richardson is managing director of Selling Machine Partners and can be contacted at .

Posted by: Alex Richardson AT 11:14 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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